We welcomed Mike Zalewski to the state legislature with the back of our hand in 2008. Not much we’d change today about that cynical editorial. An Illinois newspaper that wasn’t cynical about Springfield in 2008 and isn’t more cynical today, isn’t keeping its eyes open.
Mike Jr.’s arrival as the chosen son of his Chicago alderman dad, replacing the state rep who “unexpectedly” chose to retire between the primary and the general election stunk to high heaven. And like every story concerning Democrats and the state house, this one had Mike Madigan’s power-grabbing fingers wrapped firmly around the neck, and the notion, of actual democracy. Or what passes for it in these parts.
Having recycled all that history, we actually come today to note that Zalewski the Younger has grown to be a decent state representative for Brookfield and Riverside. He seems to grasp the severity of our state’s self-created budget collapse, the intractable aspects of our overwhelming and every day more overwhelming pension debts.
Which makes it good news that he has been appointed chair of the House Revenue Committee. It also puts in sharp relief the inevitable question. Does he have the intestinal fortitude to stand up to Madigan and bring the House to the table for genuine political compromise on budget issues.
In recent weeks, we have seen Senate Democrats and Republicans find common ground in this absurd stalemate. There has been give and take, a suggested process to move forward. What has been missing is Gov. Bruce Rauner kissing both sides in the Senate full on the lips with thanks for giving him a face-saving path ahead. And also missing has been any indication that Madigan gives a rat’s-ass about anything other than maintaining his power base for his own peculiar satisfaction.
Nine years ago, on your arrival, Rep. Zalewski, we called you a hack for your method of achieving perpetual office. You’ve proven to be somewhat better than a hack. But now, with another step on the ladder of power in Springfield, it becomes more incumbent that you use that power for actual good.
It is time for some Democrat to tell Madigan that enough is enough, that politicians truly have to solve problems for real people back home.
Rep. Zalewski, that Democrat ought to be you.